Ranking Member Water’s Opening Statement at Today’s Hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, delivered the following statement at today's full Committee hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:
As prepared for delivery:
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you Chairman Bernanke for being here with us again today.
Chairman Bernanke, under your leadership and through the actions taken by the FOMC, the recovery continues to strengthen. Treasury yields and mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest levels in decades, and home values have in turn risen between 5 and 12 percent over the 12 month period ending in April, resulting in a substantial reduction in the number of borrowers with negative equity. Without the dramatic actions you have taken to spur economic growth the economy simply could not have recovered to the extent it has today.
Since your last appearance before this committee to discuss the economy and the outlook for monetary policy back in February, there has been much debate about when, and to what extent, the FOMC might begin to slow the current pace of asset purchases. As the economic outlook improves I would urge you not to scale back your monetary stimulus until it is absolutely clear that the now fragile recovery will hold and real progress has been made in reducing unemployment.
Thanks to your efforts, the number of people who are unemployed has steadily fallen since the height of the crisis. However, we still have a long way to go before we have achieved any reasonable measure of full employment. More than 11 million Americans continue to search for work and countless others have either given up looking all together, or are stuck working fewer hours than they need to get by.
With inflation in check - well below your 2 percent target - I would ask that you and your colleagues on the FOMC continue to give the employment aspect of your dual-mandate the critical attention it deserves.
In addition to the important work you are doing to foster economic growth, the Federal Reserve has also made significant progress in implementing key reforms aimed at strengthening our financial system. In particular, I was very pleased to see the balanced approach taken by the Federal Reserve in issuing the final Basel III capital rule which appropriately takes into account the unique needs of our nation’s community banks.
I look forward to your testimony today and yield back the balance of my time.